GRIMSBY Town were caught out by a late goal as Macclesfield Town claimed all three points at Blundell Park.
In an open game between two well-matched sides, Matthew Barnes-Homer struck from the penalty spot after a foul by Aswad Thomas.
Visiting keeper Lance Cronin had kept his team in the game with a string of superb saves to deny the Mariners, who had created the better chances throughout the game.
But the away side took the honours after catching the hosts on the counter-attack and Town finished the game with 10 men after Scott Neilson was shown a late red card.
Four changes were made to the Town side after last week’s FA Cup defeat by Kidderminster Harriers.
Thomas and Shaun Pearson returned from injury, while Craig Disley was fit to start after limping off after coming on as a substitute against Steve Burr’s side. Ross Hannah also came back in after parent club Bradford City refused permission for him to play in the cup.
The men making way were Sam Hatton, Ian Miller, Andi Thanoj and Dayle Southwell, three of whom started on the bench this time around.
James McKeown began in goal, with Bradley Wood, Pearson, Nathan Pond and Thomas making up the defence.
Joe Colbeck, Disley, Derek Niven and Neilson were the midfielders, with Anthony Elding joining Hannah in attack.
Miller, Southwell and Thanoj were among the substitutes, along with Frankie Artus and Andy Cook.
Macclesfield made the journey east with a familiar name in their starting XI in the shape of Peter Winn. The Cleethorpes-born winger had a spell on loan at Blundell park from Stevenage last season before signing for the Silkmen in July.
Former Luton strikers Barnes-Homer and Amari Morgan-Smith were the men looking to cause the Grimsby defence problems.
Macclesfield kicked off into a strong wind and they saw a penalty appeal turned down within the opening two minutes, when Pond appeared to catch Morgan-Smith inside the box. Referee Robert Whitton was not interested though, waving play on.
A foul at the other end then gave Town a free kick 35 yards out and after Wood chipped it into the box, the ball broke for Pearson to lash a low shot which visiting keeper Cronin did very well to get a hand to.
Pond had to concede a corner on six minutes after some good build-up play from the visitors. John-Paul Kissock’s kick was headed away by Pearson.
Niven drove a low shot from 40 yards after Barnes-Homer gave the ball away in midfield but his tame effort rolled wide.
A push on Elding eventually brought a town free kick after the referee initially allowed the advantage but the set-piece opportunity came to nothing, as Colbeck fired over the bar.
A similart situation came when Thomas fouled right-back Ryan Jackson and the referee allowed play to continue initially before blowing for the free kick. Keiran Murtagh’s delivery was headed wide by centre-back Pablo Mills.
Town were starting to take control of the game around the quarter-hour but a spell of Macclesfield pressure saw Jackson have a shot blocked by Thomas after a run by Winn down the left.
Then, a half-chance for Grimsby came when Neilson found Hannah inside the box but he could not get any power on his header.
Colbeck won a corner for the Mariners on 19 minutes but Niven’s touch to Colbeck’s delivery took the ball away from Pearson, who looked set to connect with a header.
A foul by Murtagh on Neilson gave Town a free kick on the right three minutes later. Colbeck sent it into the box but the ball was headed away by Tony Diagne, who got to it ahead of Pond.
Morgan-Smith had a shot blocked for Macclesfield, before a long ball forward from Murtagh resulted in a Grimsby free kick for a push on Pond.
A Town attack down the left then led to Colbeck firing a shot just over the bar from 20 yards.
A cross from Winn at the other end held up in the wind but Kissock’s header from 18 yards went straight through to McKeown.
A good move from the Mariners saw a deep cross from Thomas flicked on by Elding for Hannah but the offside flag was raised against the Bradford loanee.
A cross from Colbeck on the left was headed out for a corner and after it was played short for Neilson, he found Niven and the midfielder’s cross was headed away for a Town throw on the right. It was also taken short, before the ball was crossed for Pond to loop a header against the bar.
Niven was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on midfielder Sam Wedgebury midway inside the Grimsby half on 38 minutes but the resulting free kick was poor and Niven headed clear.
Murtagh followed Niven into the referee’s notebook when he clipped the heels of Disley on the Town left.
Colbeck’s delivery was met by Pearson but his header went well over the bar.
A low cross from Thomas on the left was flicked towards goal by Hannah but his effort was deflected out for a corner by Mills.
Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further opportunities created by either side, the scores remained level at the break.
It had been a very open first half but few clear-cut chances had been created at either end, with neither goalkeeper particularly busy.
No changes were made before the restart and Town could have taken the lead almost immediately, when a cross from Colbeck on the right was flicked towards goal by Elding but saved by keeper Cronin.
Niven then tried his luck with a side-footer from 20 yards but Cronin made the catch.
In a high-tempo start to the half, the away side also created a good opportunity for Jackson but he blazed the ball over the bar from inside the box.
Neilson had the next chance, picking the ball up on the left and cutting in before hitting a shot that Cronin had to push around his post for a corner.
Charles Henry replaced Jackson for Macclesfield before the corner, which was cleared.
Murtagh shot wide after good work by the busy Kissock in midfield but the visitors were still posing little threat to McKeown’s goal.
Cronin was having more to do in the Macclesfield goal and he was called into action again to push the ball away from under his bar after a cross from Thomas.
The game was still open and the next chance went to the away side, with substitute Henry pushing a shot wide from inside the penalty area.
McKeown was required to beat the ball away for a corner from a shot by Barnes-Homer on 58 minutes, as the away side looked to force a breakthrough.
Macclesfield were bossing possession and looking the more dangerous of the two teams Town’s response was to bring Thanoj on for Hannah, pushing Neilson into a more advanced striking role.
Thanoj found Neilson on the edge of the box just after the hour but the Crawley loanee’s shot was pushed out for a corner by Cronin.
And the keeper produced another outstanding save when a great ball fromm Disley left Neilson in a one-on-one situation but the keeper came out to superbly block his shot for a corner.
The Mariners had another chance to take the lead from the flag but Elding could not convert a free header.
A shot from Thanoj was blocked after Thomas pulled the ball back from the left, before Pearson was booked for a foul on Barnes-Homer near the centre circle.
Southwell came on in place of Colbeck for the last 20 minutes of the game, with both sides still looking for the opening goal.
Thanoj had a shot blocked for a corner after a run by Neilson on the right but the ball was cleared after a header from Pearson.
Cronin made another brilliant save to keep the scores level after a driven cross from Wood was met by Southwell’s first-time shot but again, Town could not make the resulting corner count.
A foul on Elding gave the Mariners a free kick in a central position, 25 yards out, on 77 minutes. Neilson teed the ball up for Thomas but the left-back sliced it wide.
A spell of Macclesfield pressure came after Town lost possession deep inside their own half but it ended with a wild shot by Winn, who hit the roof of the Osmond Stand with his 20-yard effort.
Waide Fairhurst came on for Kissock for the visitors and soon afterwards, they were given a golden opportunity to take the lead.
Town again lost possession and Barnes-Homer made his way into the box, where he turned inside and was brought down by Thomas. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and BARNES-HOMER got up to smash the ball past McKeown and into the net in front of the 66 travelling supporters from Cheshire.
Jack Mackreth came on for Morgan-Smith for the last six minutes, before Cook replaced Niven for the Mariners, who were now having to chase the game.
Macclesfield were now on the up and they kept attacking in search of a second goal, which would kill Grimsby’s hopes off once and for all.
And there was still time for the Mariners to be reduced to 10 men, with Neilson shown a straight red card for a foul on the Macclesfield right.
Cronin had to be at his best again to make a superb double save, first from Cook, then Southwell, as the game moved into four minutes of added time.
McKeown moved forward to join the Town attack but they were unable to force an equaliser, meaning it was a third straight home defeat in all competitions.
Town will now head to Tamworth for their next league fixture on Saturday.